Mini Reviews for 10/13

This article was originally published at ComicBook.com on October 13, 2021.

DC

JUSTICE LEAGUE: LAST RIDE #6

Justice League: Last Ride #6 delivers on the intergalactic climax it has been building across five issues. Every hero, villain, and in-between is engaged in a battle across Apokolips when the stakes and cast both grow even larger. Every stage of this is produced effectively, including a clear narrative for each League member amidst the chaos. However, there’s not much depth to this impossibly significant battle the Justice League is waging yet again. Like the third layer of a carbon copy from the start of the New 52’s Justice League, Last Ride delivers exactly what it promises but nothing more. It’s difficult to be excited for that when this is a confrontation waged so many times already. — Chase Magnett

Rating: 3 out of 5

STRANGE ADVENTURES #12

The opening pages of Strange Adventures #12 paint a heroic showdown – an unexpected shift for Mitch Gerads’ panels. Brave rescuers speak boldly and are quick to righteous violence winning the day with seeming ease. This is strange for two reasons. First, it is not simply unexpected but unearned. The relationship between Mister Terrific and Alanna never reflected or grew to what they suddenly share, and many of their individual actions appear by the insistence of plot as well. It’s even stranger because this is the sort of narrative the rest of the issue and, seemingly, the 11 building to this sought to undermine and question. A series of digressive conversations cast questions at the stories we tell about war and empire, but they confuse suggesting an idea with possessing one. There are no clear answers to these sweeping themes, but this gorgeous text does not contribute to the conversation. The vibe of people trying better and choosing new heroes without ever interrogating ideology allows for endless projection, for readers to suggest whichever outcomes might most appeal to them. So it’s appropriate that Strange Adventures ends on Shaner’s soft, rounded, and reductive style. — Chase Magnett

Rating: 2 out of 5

SUPERMAN AND THE AUTHORITY #4

Superman and The Authority was an enjoyable ride with excellent character designs, engaging superhero scenarios, and plenty of social and literary awareness embedded in the writing. It’s also a miniseries without much of a conclusion. Superman wraps up his showdown with Ultra-Humanite with a half-hearted shrug before rushing to introduce 2 new opportunities for readers to learn more. It’s the hucksterism at the end that undermines the semi-coherent attempts to make some final statements on the state of the superhero genre and its ties to history. Those notes and scrawlings are still intriguing on their own, but anyone who arrives at issue #4 seeking an ending or even a solid conclusory note is bound to be disappointed. — Chase Magnett

Rating: 3.5 out of 5

Marvel

THE AMAZING SPIDER-MAN #76

The new era of The Amazing Spider-Man seems almost ready to begin as all of the cliffhangers from issue #75 are continued, but not quite completed, in issue #76. There is a lot of ground to cover with Peter deathly ill, albeit in an unclear fashion, and Ben Reilly still outlining his role as a new Spider-Man, for himself and readers alike. This sophomore outing maintains all of last week’s strengths with clear character work and outstanding artistic contributions, but it also fails to provide a clear hook or provide more than half-steps forward for either of its leading heroes. It’s the stretched pacing between two Spider-Men that leads this outing to feel like it’s still arriving at the point. Hopefully, writer Kelly Thompson can stick the landing in two weeks before many readers lose patience with this set up stage. — Chase Magnett

Rating: 3.5 out of 5

KANG THE CONQUEROR #3

Ironic twists of fate and unintended consequences are essential fare in time travel stories, but they are predicated upon the audience’s understanding of time travel. In Kang the Conqueror, as a possible necessity of weaving so many timelines and stories together, the logic of time travel is hand-wavey and refuses to acknowledge any clear rules. As a result the ironic twists that arrive in Kang the Conqueror only read as a further step in a preordained path rather than anything consequential based on this young Kang’s choices thus far. It’s a next step weaving together various reference points from history and assembled through an unceasing collection of narrative captions. Readers are led by the hand through what happened next, including the introduction of Kang’s most constant rival, but none of this reads as being inevitable or even logical in its progression. It’s all simply a matter of what must be included and explained in the story next, which doesn’t make for a terribly engaging narrative – no matter how well drawn it may be at points. — Chase Magnett

Rating: 2 out of 5

WARHAMMER 40,000: SISTERS OF BATTLE #3

It’s difficult for me to believe this is only the third issue as, for the third installment, a crew of Sisters delve deeper into the tunnels hunting out heresy while intrigue brews amongst their commanding officers in space. Unattached to any stakes invested in character or even this fictional world’s history, it’s the same set of actions repeating themselves. While they may be functionally delivered there’s a malaise seeping into the occasionally confusing battle sequences which continue to rattle like a string of firecrackers – all the same until they eventually end. — Chase Magnett

Rating: 1.5 out of 5

X-FORCE #24

X-Force #24 brings the big spy comics energy as a cautionary tale of paranoia unbound is paired with a long-seeded revelation that demands nobody be trusted. It’s a delightful balancing act as Beast’s visceral chase of the nesting doll mercenaries deep into his anatomy is met with meditative scenes which slowly develop a mystery. Both are part of the same genre and occupy different strands of the same web, and so they reflect one another in fascinating fashion. It’s a tragedy in two parts, but only one is self-inflicted. Watching either character unravel is heartbreaking because their madness and calm alike are what draws readers into a fearfully tense state, and the consequences of what’s seen here are bound to cause far more harm before all is said and done. — Chase Magnett

Rating: 4 out of 5

Other Publishers

ARMY OF DARKNESS 1979 #2

The sophomore outing provides a clearer outline for the story and its conflicts. Ash makes new alliances and enemies with clear enough directions. It’s a ramshackle assemblage for jokes and a few forced action beats. The self-aware tone puts nearly all of these elements beyond effect as it’s unclear who this joke is being played upon, perhaps the reader. — Chase Magnett

Rating: 2 out of 5

COMPASS #5

Compass closes with its largest battle yet filled with plenty of twists before a bombastic last moment that reads like something directed by Lucas. It’s a culmination of everything the series has delivered thus far, including both strong historical foundations and the fun of pulp dynamics. The issue never lingers too long on a single sequence or feature as it’s filled with further developments, and beautifully paces them to ensure the issue is never easy to set down. There is a certain pat quality to the resolution of this conflict with all parties quite easily appeased with only one removed, but it’s also easy to forgive given the likable nature of these characters. Compass’ use of historical verisimilitude never strove for realism, but offered a rich and descriptive setting for this delightful adventure. A potential continuation suggested by the final page would be very welcome. — Chase Magnett

Rating: 4 out of 5

HOME SICK PILOTS #10

After drawing the many players of Home Sick Pilots back together across the series’ second arc, they prepare to collide in an issue wonderfully showcasing the many reasons to appreciate the series. Much of the focus is on the titular band members, but their paths reveal enough of the support cast (and one genuinely terrifying antagonist) to remind readers of all that is at stake and then build upon it in dramatic fashion. This provides ample opportunities to also showcase the excellent design work that makes each issue memorable, whether it’s the human-sized horrors with their cold expressions or the kaiju-sized monstrosities. Even as Home Sick Pilots #10 denies readers the conflict they’ve been seeking for months, it does so with sufficient elegance to also remind us that the wait will likely be worth it. — Chase Magnett

Rating: 4 out of 5

NINJAK #4

Ninjak #4 wraps up the “Daylight” arc brilliantly as it solidifies the imposing new threat to the global spy community and ratchets up the stakes for Ninjak specifically. There is a moment early in the issue that provides quite a distraction from this landing, though, as art duties are rotated mid-chase. The connection between two pages is unclear and requires readers to shrug and push ahead. While Pulido’s replacement does a fine job of portraying the action as it continues, the transition combined with this last minute shift from such a distinctive style makes the transition a genuine distraction. Fill-in artist Beni Lobel acquits themself admirably contributing an excellent visual metaphor for psychic confrontations at the issue’s end. The story remains compelling to pull readers past a rough transition and along for a climax filled with new mysteries and worsening conditions – albeit a few less notable layouts. Ninjak has established itself as the Valiant series to read and, given the cliffhanger in Ninjak #4, that’s unlikely to change when artist Mike Norton joins in issue #5. — Chase Magnett

Rating: 3.5 out of 5

THE SIX SIDEKICKS OF TRIGGER KEATON #5

It’s the penultimate chapter and, while a showdown with 100 stuntmen provides plenty of excitement and humor, it seems to be focused on buying time before solving the mystery. That the solution arrives from an offhanded comment entirely unrelated to this issue’s events makes it read like a prolific digression in a shaggy dog story. It’s the issue’s best moments that prevent it from falling into that sub-genre, however, as it features the sincerity of a “getting the band back together” sequence. As members of this idiosyncratic crew reveal themselves in interesting ways, it’s easy to smile and laugh as they find small triumphs and moments of courage. It’s played with the same excellent action panels and sense of humor that has been present throughout The Six Sidekicks of Trigger Keaton, and it ensures the issue is still a joy to read even as it hesitates to find its conclusion. — Chase Magnett

Rating: 4 out of 5

SONIC THE HEDGEHOG #45

It’s a road trip issue featuring many Sonic the Hedgehog heroines camping. The set up for the adventure ahead is clear, but also framed in a manner that will be useful to many states and other areas facing forest fires. It’s the dynamics between the four characters and their various subplots (including a surprise departure) that makes issue #45 much better than a PSA, though. There’s a constant blend of pathos and humor as struggles are shared between friends on an adventure filled with a number of jokes experienced campers may appreciate. As a difficult task looms for a cliffhanger, expectations are high for how these heroes might handle a very problem facing their own community. Although, next issue’s cover with characters posing with smiles against a forest fire may be in poor taste. — Chase Magnett

Rating: 4 out of 5

TELEPATHS #2

Telepaths pitches an electrifying premise – the sort of thing that could be excellently produced as a network drama on a budget. The implications of a large subset of humanity gaining telepathic powers delivers endless problems and exciting solutions on day one, and that’s exactly what this issue delivers. Bouncing between three key sets of characters, it covers the landscape of a United States in crisis well. It’s frankly astonishing how many perspectives and significant details are fit within a neat 20 pages without ever bogging down the story in droning exposition – Straczynski knows how to write plot-oriented dialogue. Epting makes the characters instantly recognizable and delivers realistic expressions that make the crises seem all the more pressing. It’s hard not to perceive his talents as being squandered given that much of the issue is dedicated to Sorkin-esque walk-and-talks with only an occasional montage of the outside chaos. That speaks to the fit of this story for the medium it currently occupies, as well, when it seemingly begs for a longform treatment in prose or television that could contain the sprawl this story seeks. In any case, what’s here is delivered well and presents a tantalizing big idea, even if the presentation isn’t necessarily thrilling. — Chase Magnett

Rating: 3.5 out of 5

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